Latest reviews by Amanda Wagner

(2019)
"Run Mag Mile 10k 2019"
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Packet Pick-up: As is tradition for most Chicago RAM races, packet pick-up was at Fleet Feet Old Town. I went on Friday late afternoon, since I did not have class and was already in the area. It was a little crowded, but I was in and out quickly. It was a little confusing when I showed my race registration to claim my bib and they told me my bib was already picked up...but this little snafu was solved quickly. I just had to go to a different spot of the store to grab my bib since all the elite bibs were pulled ahead of time apparently. Which brings me to my next point, I was seeded as an elite for this race and that offered me some cool perks that I was not expecting, such as a separate bag check, an elites only tent, preferential placing in the start corral, and snacks/beverages! I was also a little surprised to be seeded as elite because I consider myself to very much be an aspiring sub-elite runner at this moment in time.

Pre-Race: I live within a mile of the start line of the race, so I decided to jog over with my husband who came to spectate for moral support. I quickly ran to the elite tent to check my bags and ditch my layers. I made my way to the start corral to do some strides and drills. The weather was perfect, not too hot or cold and hardly windy! I felt decent considering all the 50 mile marathon training weeks on my legs leading into this race. This race was just for fun and to change up my training, since the Chicago Marathon is the goal race! I did not taper for it whatsoever, so going into the race my legs were quite tired. :P My goal was a sub 40 10k because that's been a goal of mine for a while and because my workouts during marathon training indicated this was possible. I loved that I got to start at the very front of the corral as an elite, because start lines stress me out. Especially after my experience at the Boston Marathon 5k where I lined up at the proper spot, but no one else did...and then I ended up weaving in and out of slower runners all race. I prefer to be as close to the front and by the least amount of other runners as possible, but I know that is a wish most of us share :P

The Race:
-Miles 0-2: Woah, I’m going low 6 pace- this could be bad...or good 😂 But I feel strong. I am glad I saw my friend Elin cheering (& congratulated her on her engagement the night before 💍) & later my hubs because they both gave me a boost ♥️ Around this point a few corral A runners, mainly males began to catch up to me.

-Mile 3: Okay, with a 20 flat 5k, a sub 40 is possible, but I need to negative split 😬 I was hoping to be under 20 minutes, but because I took out the race a little hot this did not surprise me at all. More corral A males were gaining on me and the top elite female group was 1-a few minutes ahead of me and then the rest of the elite females were behind me at this point.

-Mile 5: Woah, I’m tired & basically alone. Can I still push? You’re falling off pace Amanda- get it together...😑 ⠀

-Mile 6: So tired 😓 Keep that dude from corral A in your sight...Oh man a 6:35 mile... now you need to basically sprint to have any hope of sub 40.

-Mile 6-6.2: I saw the clock say 38:25 at mile 6 & I knew it would be close 🤞🏻 I think I was a little aggressive pace-wise in the beginning of the race. But I gave it everything I had the last 0.2 miles. I ended up at 40:20, which was 21 seconds over my goal and an nice positive split of 20 flat for the first 5k and 20:20 for the second 5k , but I’m still proud of myself for this effort on tired marathon legs! A 3 minute 10k PR on tired legs gives me hope for future races! 🏃🏼‍♀️

-Post-Race: They had beer, canned Moscow Mules, and other goodies for us post-race. I went to find my warm-ups because I was surprisingly chilled post-race. The weather on this late summer race felt more fall-like than today's weather to be honest, but we are only two days into fall, so I guess we need to give it time.

Overall, I cannot wait to run the Mag Mile 10k again. It was flat, fast, and fun! :And the quarter zips we received are super nice, I've already worn mine 5 times. haha :)

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(2019)
"RnR Chicago Half Marathon Review"
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This is my second time running the Rock 'N Roll Half Marathon. I absolutely love the course, but I am biased since I live in Chicago. :P It was an extra fun weekend because a lot of my BibRave Pro friends were in town :) I will say, this race does have a history of being really hot and/or humid and this year was no different. thankfully the forecast changed a few days before the race from nearly 100, to the 70s, but the humidity was awful. I still somehow managed a 2 minute PR, but was on pace for a 6 minute PR until I slowed down drastically at mile 10 due to feeling overheated. It was a good fitness check during Chicago marathon training regardless! :)

Pros:

-The course is super flat and gives you the potential for a fast time, although the hot/humid weather can be a barrier to this.
-I am so grateful they added extra add stations and sponge stations to the race because because I needed the water- I dumped water on my head every aid station.
-the volunteers are abundant and awesome-thank you!
-the spectators: so many at all points- you are barely alone and bonus points to all the Chicago cheer squads because I saw so many familiar faces
-medals: if you ran both the 5k and half you got a bonus medal and the medals in general are almost always awesome for Rock N Roll races
-Post-race party: fun and a lot of space to hang out and have some beers with friends

Cons:
-the shirts, I'm not a huge fan of the shirts, both the design and the fact that it is a dark colored shirt. I probably will not wear the shirt, especially in the summer, but who knows?
-the part of the race in the McCormick parking lot was hard to see and slippery- I feel like it slowed my time a bit
-the part of the race where the 10k and half overlap around mile 11 is tough to navigate. I felt like I had to dodge a lot of walkers and people taking up a lot of space in groups. Since I was still trying for a sub 1:30 and had fallen off pace, this demoralized me even more to dodge people walking and waste energy that way, but then closer to the finish it was nice that they had the half runners go left and the 10k runners go right. Wish they had done separate lanes the entire time there was overlap.

All in all, a well run and fun, but humid race. I did not get the sub 1:30 I had hopped for, but my 1:32 is still a 2 minute PR for my 4th ever half marathon. I had a fun time hanging with so may old and new friends and getting to view my city in a different way.

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(2019)
"I Love the 90's 5k review "
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When BibRave gave me the opportunity to run a new-to-Chicago race called I Love the 90’s 5k, I knew I could not turn it down! As a 1992 baby, the 90s hold some special memories. And yes, I know I was 8 at the turn of the century, BUT I still have many memories of scrunchies, overalls, choker necklaces, crop tops, and, of course, Gameboy!

Anyway, let’s discuss the 5k race! I was not sure what to expect going into this race. Since it was a new race, I thought I may have a shot at placing in my age group, but I also had not been doing 5k targeted speed work, so I did not put any pressure on myself. Furthermore, my true goal race is the Chicago Marathon and the Rock N Roll Chicago half is my “check-in” race, so I’ve been running some serious (for me) mileage. I had been in the 50 miles per week range going into this race and the legs were feeling tired, so I just told myself to give it the best effort I could.

I was lucky that my husband and sister-in-law were willing to spectate and warm-up with me since I did not know anyone going into the race. We ran around 1.10 miles for my warm up and then I made my way to the start line. I put an extra scrunchie on my wrist, tightened my hat, chit chatted with people at the start line and then the racing gun went off…

The first mile passed pretty unremarkably. I kept the two top guys and the lead biker in my view and ran a 6:09. I was going for a 6:10, so I was happy with it. I’m guessing the two leaders went out around 6 minute pace. I was feeling decent, despite my high mileage week. Soon after the first mile I saw my husband and sister-in-law.

Then, mile 2 was the most eventful mile by far. For those of you that know me in real life, the next set of events will come as no surprise. 😛 I was in 3rd place overall in the race and the two lead guys had gained some ground on me, so I could no longer see them or the lead biker. I came to a cross roads just before mile 2 and the arrow on the ground was partially etched away, so it was not clear if it was indicating to go straight or to turn right…I guessed and started going straight as I screamed out “which way do I go?”, but heard no response because no one was near me… I had a sinking feeling I was going the wrong way and about 15 seconds later I looked behind me and saw in the distance the 4th place person (a guy), go right by that arrow. I quickly sprinted back toward the crossroad and made a right to go back on the course successfully adding on approximately 25 seconds to the race official 2nd mile (my watch hit the 2nd mile in 6:23). I was feeling frustrated that it was not clear where I was supposed to go and now I was in 4th place… I later hit the 2nd mile on the race course around 6:45. I was also feeling frustrated because I think I could have stuck closer to the top two guys and then I wouldn’t haven’t gotten confused at the cross roads, but I (falsely) figured they were running around 17 minute 5k pace, which is not the shape I was currently in.

I vowed to put my 2nd mile behind me and just focus on the final 1.1 miles I had left and give it my best effort. About 200 m into mile 3, I passed the 4th place guy and was once again in no-(wo)man’s land running all alone. Thankfully the rest of the arrows were clear and I even saw a race photographer on some sort of electric scooter, which made me smile. Around 300 meters to go I saw my husband and sister-in-law, and told myself I was going to have to really kick it in to still be under 20 minutes with my course mishap during mile 2. I knew my true time was in the low 19 minutes, but what could I do, except kick at this point? I was determined! I hit mile 3 at 6:25 according to my watch… And then I saw finish line in the distance and felt confused when I saw an unbroken tape. I knew I was not going to be the winner, there were two guys for sure ahead of me. Then I realized it was for me, because I was the first place female! I tried to sprint it in even more as I approached the tape and put my hands up because I had never broken a tape before and that’s what I saw all the pros do when they won a race. 😛 I ran 5:40 pace for the last 200 m, which is not really a sprint (for me), but I tried, okay?!

I crossed the finish line in an official time of 20:06, knowing very well that I had run an extra 200 meters with the mishap during mile 2. My Garmin showed that I ran 3.21 miles in 20:06, putting my actual 5k well under 20 minutes. Regardless, I was 1st female and 3rd overall, which is pretty cool! And if anyone is interested, my 5k was actually around 19:28… 😛

When I found out 2nd place was 19:04, I thought to myself that I could have run that time or pretty darn close. Usually I don’t go out with the very lead guys in a race because the lead guys are typically under 17 minutes and I am certainly not in that kind of shape right now. But, what I do know, is that it is harder to push yourself when running alone, which is what I did most of the race and you just have to do your best! I probably would have had a more successful race (and would not have gotten confused during mile 2) if I stuck with those 2 guys. But oh well, I still had a fun race! 🙂

Overall, the race was awesome! The medals were cool, there was a costume contest for the best 90’s costume, and I won a free entry for next year, so I can try to defend my title. haha. Plus, the other top two females were super sweet and it was fun to meet them and take a photo with them at the awards ceremony. I also loved all the 90s music on the course and at the awards ceremony-I still have Barbie Girl in my head weeks later 🤣 I will definitely be back next year, it’s free for me after all 😉 And they will also be debuting their 10k race next year, if you are into 10ks more than 5ks! 😛

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(2019)
"Running for tacos and fun!"
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This is the first race I've done truly for fun and not for competition. And for this type A, competitive runner that was tough! But I have no had that much fun in a race in a long time, so I'm glad I did :) I think the reason I had fun is because I agreed to run the race stride for stride with one of my good friends, Ben! He had just run the Illinois Marathon the previous week and I have just started seriously training, so there was no reason to run a fast, competitive race for either of us. I also do not think I was capable of a fast competitive race at this point anyway. :P e lined up in corral A and agreed to keep our 5 mile race pace around 8 minute miles. And that is exactly what we did! Although it was technically a negative split! Mile 1 was 8:00 minutes and by mile 5 we were at 7:27, but this is because we saw my husband and the inflatable piñata that signified the finish line.

The course was flat and fast along the lakefront path, although there were some spots of flooding from the recent rain. The volunteers were nice and helpful, especially with the spot on the course around mile 4 where we had to veer off the lakefront path. Post-race we were offered beer (although not me because I forgot my ID). And there was a mechanical bull, but I was too afraid to try it. It looked really fun though! And the breakfast buffet had tacos galore.

Overall, the Cinco de Miler was an awesome race! The race day weather could not be beat, either. The race course is flat, fast, and it’s a rare distance, so it is an (almost) guaranteed PR (unless you didn't race it like me). The post-race party was very festive, with the music and mechanical bull. And they had breakfast tacos, enough said! :P They also have free race photos and who doesn't love that?! It is a race that I plan to run again, but to actually race the next time ;)

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(2019)
"Chicago Spring Half 10k 2019"
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It was such an unexpectedly warm May day, but I'm so glad I ran this 10k race. I am slowly getting back into running fitness and used this race as a check-in for my goal half marathon (Rock N Roll Chicago) and goal marathon (Chicago). My plan was to start around 6:50 pace and see if i could bring down the pace for the duration of the 10k. I ended up at 6:59 pace, so not quite what I was hoping, but the heat was a big factor and the fact that in some parts I had a hard time figuring out where to run because of the congestion. Since I was in the 10k, we started after the half and around mile 3 and 4 I got trapped between the leaders in the half coming from the other direction and the 3 hour half group going the same direction as me, which I was struggling to run around , since it was a big group. That is my only complaint about the race, the congestion. It was otherwise well run, plenty of aid stations, and the bonus breakfast buffet at the end was awesome. I also loved that each of us got to take home a free plant, mine is still (surprisingly) kicking today. I'd run this race again, but ideally the half marathon, rather than the 10k.

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